DUNLAP — Putting family first and seeing an opportunity for a challenge, long-time softball coach Dawn Austin begins her first season as a high school head coach.
When the Concord job came open last summer with her daughter Kiley entering her freshman year, Austin decided to leave Notre Dame after seven years as an assistant to lead the Minutemen.
“Leaving Notre Dame is tough,” says Austin, who was a volunteer assistant on the staff of Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf and a head coach at Goshen College before that. “But with all the travel, I would not get to see much of (Kiley, who is expected to be the top pitcher on the Concord junior varsity).”
So knowing many Concord players from coaching them at Concord Little League, with the Michiana Mystique travel program or from giving them private lessons, Austin became the second person in her household to become a Concord head coach. Steve Austin has been the Minutmen’s boys basketball leader since 2008-09. The Austins have lived in the Concord district for all of their children’s school careers and son, Brett, is a sophomore.
“Concord has been good for our kids and it’s been good for Steve,” says Austin. “It makes sense for me to be a bigger part of it. I decided it was time for a challenge and to see what I can do with this team as opposed to a travel program.”
Austin’s aim with the Minutemen is to put the group ahead of individuals.
“It’s about discipline and it’s about team unity,” says Austin. “I don’t want them to be a bunch of individuals. I want them to jell together. If is everyone moving in the same direction, it’s easier to achieve our goals. We have to do what’s best for the whole team. I’m getting a great response. They’ve followed by lead so far.”
Austin’s coaching staff includes Mike Jackowiak, who was head baseball coach at Concord for six seasons (2005-10), and is the father of Minutemen sophomore Maddi Jackoiwak.
“I’m so glad he agreed to help,” says Austin. “He’s got a lot of experience.”
Austin’s Concord debut is scheduled for Friday, March 22, with a home game against South Bend Clay.
Coach: Krysten Parson (32-75 in six seasons).
Assistants: Gwen Kelly, Linda Bontrager.
2012 record: 8-15.
Returning letterwinners (12): Senior — of Laken Richer. Juniors — p-ss Marie Bontrager, of Tori Craw, 1b Hanna Hochstetler, of Samantha Horsch, 2b Nicole Schwartz, 3b-c Lorae Weaver. Sophomores — 2b-3b Erin Bontrager, of-2b-c Mallory Bontreger, ss-p Jordan Helmuth, of Marisa Marquez, c-of Lena Yeakey.
Others: Juniors — of Catie Kauffman, of Rachel Schrock. Sophomore — of Manuela Harder. Freshman — 2b-of Isabel Rondo.
Opener: March 21 vs. LaVille.
Coach: Todd King (47-92 in six seasons).
Assistants: Chris Corbin, Heather Clear, Heather Erlacher, Corey Hausbach, Chris Havens.
2012 record: 15-12 (4-4 in Northern Indiana Conference).
Returning letterwinners (6): Seniors — of-if Kylie Hill. Juniors — ss Kate Cobb, c Jazzmin Hoelyfield, p-3b Cassie Shelton, of Alison Valentijn, p-3b Brittney VanderHoek.
Others: Seniors — of Lindsay Ravenscroft, of Alexis Taylor, 3b Izzy Zepeda. Sophomores — p-if Celesta Ganger, 2b Leah Gibson, 1b Emily Namisnak. Freshman — if Cyndee Prugh.
Opener: March 22 at Northridge.
Coach: Dawn Austin (first season; Notre Dame assistant, 2005-12; Goshen College head coach, 1997-2003, 108-137-1).
Assistants: Mike Jackowiak, Jerry Adkins, Jess Dooley.
2012 record: 17-11 (9-5 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (9): Seniors — c Leslie Crawford, of Sarah Emerson, ss-2b Kennadie Lopez, ss-2b-of Sabrina Scherer, of Amanda Schoeffler. Juniors — p-utility Jenny Miller. Sophomores — of Jade Iavagnilio, 3b-of Maddi Jackoiwak, c Taylor Nelson.
Others: Senior — of Rachel Brown. Juniors — of Tori Braddock, 1b-3b Olivia Hess. Sophomore — p-of Rae Ann Miller. Freshmen — utility McKenzie Loge.
Opener: March 22 vs. SB Clay.
Coach: Emily Romani (first season).
Assistants: Craig Coffman.
Returning letterwinners (9): Senior — Megan Warren. Juniors — Makenzie Colon, Brieanna Lowe. Sophomores — Sarah Bennett, Hannah Stayton.
Opener: March 25 at Westview.
Coach: John Skibbe (243-240-1 in 20 seasons).
Assistants: Lee Kauffman, Rick Everest, Lydell Troyer, Mick Reese, Myron Schwartz.
2012 record: 23-8 (7-3 in Northeast Corner Conference).
Returning letterwinners (10): Seniors — 2b Kyla Bender, ss Alex Dewitt, of Adrienne Miller, of Kaela Miller, 1b Margaret Moore, of Raina Troyer, c Riley Troyer. Juniors — 3b-c Grace Miller, 1b-p Payton Kammerdiener. Sophomore — p-1b Danica Mast.
Others: Juniors — 3b-2b Erin Carlos, 1b Shelby Niswonger, of Britteny Ostrander, of Karen Schwartz. Sophomore — c Maddie Miller. Freshmen — 2b-1b D.J. Martz, p Lairen Miller, of Jalisa Schwartz, ss-of Alexis Zook.
Opener: March 25 at Northridge.
Coach: Cassi McCormack (8-21 in one season).
Assistants: Randy Bender, Sarah Noah, Matt Armbruster.
2012 record: 8-21 (5-9 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (8): Seniors — of Lacee Mulcahey, of Emily Mullet, 3b Kaylee Shepherd, p-1b Morgan Vanover. Juniors — p-3b Taylor Caouette, c Jessica DeStefano, utility Alex Prater. Sophomore — 2b Brooke Miller.
Others: Juniors — utlity Jessica Axalco, of Brittany Jones. Sophomores — ss Yadira Cabrales, utility Ali Nemeth.
Opener: March 19 vs. SB Riley.
Coach: Brent Kulp (274-119-1 in 14 seasons).
Assistants: Brent Bardo, Steve Cart, Dennis Kulp, Jeff VanDeKeere, Dave Hill, Sara Zann.
2012 record: 22-9 (11-3 in Northern State Conference).
Returning letterwinners (5): Seniors — p Brittany Kamp, if Caitlyn Wenger, if Kaitlyn Winter. Junior — of-p Jordyn Green. Sophomore — c Karigan Housman. Others: Juniors — if-of Sierra Geier, if-of Summer Lusk. Sophomores — p-of Bailey Clark, if McKenzie Hill, if Reilley Storm. Freshmen — if-of Alli Clere, if-of Alyssa Jackey, if-of-p Kaylee Pletcher.
Opener: March 21 vs. Marian.
Coach: Craig Sears (202-90 in 10 seasons).
Assistants: Mike Strausborger, Mitch Harrington, Allison Sears.
2012 record: 10-18 (6-8 in Northern State Conference).
Returning letterwinners (11): Seniors — c-of Nikki Ambrose, p Paige Erwin, 1b-of Christy Hill, of Brittney Joy, of Lauren Strausborger, 2b Paula Strausborger, 3b Kara Summers. Juniors — 3b Danielle Coulahan, p-if Gretchen Hurtle, 3b Logan Williams. Sophomores — if-c Gabby Warner.
Others: Juniors — c-of McKenzy Geers, of Layla Raven. Sophomores — p-if Kiersten Osowski. Freshman — p-of Kim Lucas. Opener: March 26 at SB St. Joseph.
Coach: James “Bo” O’Dell (51-6 in two seasons; spent five seasons at Wawasee).
Assistants: Andy Robinson, Lavern Wingard, Mary Jo Martin, Sheila Hostetler.
2012 record: 30-2 (14-0 in Northern Lakes Conference; NLC, sectional, regional champions).
Returning letterwinners (8): Seniors — 3b Haley Schrock, ss Madison Schrock. Juniors — of Jaymee Bowers, if-of Jenna Fisher, c Grace Grevengoed, of Brooke Maes, p Haley Nixon, 2b Brianne O’Dell.
Others: Juniors — if-of Mikayla Deisler, if Hannah Kistler, c Taylor Long, if-of Whitney Yoder. Freshman — of Bailey O’Dell.
Opener: March 22 vs. Central.
Coach: Ryan Mattern (38-119 in six seasons).
Assistants: Mandy Cripe, Jeff Stillson, Mike Klotz.
2012 record: 5-23 (0-14 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (9): Seniors — of Brynne Flickinger, of Samantha Paul, p-1b Jodie Ramer, 2b Katie Rhoade, 3b Maddie Schwartz. Juniors — of Cami Cripe, ss Allie Mattingly. Sophomores — of Lexi Bergman, c Paige Hershberger.
Others: Juniors — of Sara Irvin. Sophomore — p-1b Blakely Lengacher. Freshman — p-1b Taylor Troxel.
Opener: March 25 at Tippecanoe Valley.
Coach: Beth Zachary (113-35 in five seasons).
Assistants: Molly Mzorcek, Brian Griman, Sarah Dwigans, Dave Barncord, Ashley Carrico, Dustin Zachary.
2012 record: 15-13 (4-4 in Northern Indiana Conference).
Returning letterwinners (8): Senior — of Kiley Kemmerling. Juniors — c Claryce Gedde, p Courtney Pepper, p Mackenzie Joecken, 1b Sydney Tom, p Tori Woodiwiss. Sophomores — 3b Monica Smith, 1b Leah Simon.
Others: Freshmen — c Alyssa Griman, 2b Halle Hixenbaugh, ss Olivia Magaldi, of Allie Piatt, Addison Pixley.
Opener: March 26 vs. Warsaw.
Coach: Hans Griepentrog (first season).
Assistants: Autumn Griepentrog, Marc Little.
2012 record: 16-12 (8-6 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (10): Seniors — 1b Madi Anderson, p-ss Kylie Norris, of-2b Taylor Spangle, of Victoria Warren. Juniors — 3b Stacie Carr, of Ashlynn Fisher. Sophomores — of Aly Anderson, c Paige Hlutke, ss-p Alli Ousley, of-3b Priscilla Weikart.
Others: Junior — of-c Courtney Crabtree. Freshmen — 2b-p Allissa Flores, 3b-p Kylee Rostochak.
Opener: March 23 at Westview.
Coach: Jeremy Williams (first season).
Assistants: Ryan Glassman, Roger Witham, Kaitlyn Frost.
2012 record: 9-15 (4-5 in Northeast Corner Conference).
Returning letterwinners (10): Seniors — Olivia Miller, Michelle Mowery, Kayla Yoder. Juniors — Rachel Johns, Samantha Pfenning, Amber Roth, Brooke Wigner, Brooke Yoder. Sophomores — Sydney Byrkett, Hannah Witham.
Opener: March 23 vs. Wawasee.
Compiled By Steve Krah